Centuries of Sound is a wonderful podcast and blog by James Errington that compiles original and historical music mixes from each year of recorded sound from 1859 to the present. Errington not only compiles the music, but also researches the artists, the style and the technology used in the specific year. As of this date Errington has reached the first year of the 20th Century, a year in which he claims that recorded music became much more accessible, although he does warn that the a couple of songs from minstrel shows feature the “disgusting racist language that was endemic at the time”.
Into the 20th century proper with our most listenable mix so far – 60 minutes of original sounds from 1901. If you’ve been holding off listening until things get a bit more accessible, this might be a good place to start. …We are no closer to the jazz age in 1901 than we were in 1898, but I’m not sure I mind. Mainly due to a vast increase in the pool of available recordings, this is the first mix which I find a joy from start to finish.
Here’s a sampling of compilations from earlier years.